A mother from Banbury was asked by her children trapped in the quake-hit city of Kathmandu to “come back to Nepal so we can die together”.
Now more than 5,000 people are confirmed to have died and 6,500 to have been injured in the 7.8 magnitude quake and the subsequent aftershocks that have hit the country since Sunday.
When I spoke to my family they could not speak. When Sulochana spoke to her children they said ‘come back, come back to Nepal so we can die together.’Prakash Maharjan
Mr Prakash Maharjan, 52 and his niece Sulochana Aryal, 29, have spoken of their fear for the wellbeing of family members who have been forced from their homes and are now taking refuge in one of the vast cities of tents which have sprung up throughout the capital.
This includes Mr Maharjan’s wife Sarita, his brothers Prabat and Pranesh, Mrs Aryal’s husband Bishnu and their two children Pawan, 14, and Sony, who is 13.
Mr Maharjan, who works at Gurkha Spice on Broad Street, said: “I heard in the morning when one of my friends sent me a message from Nepal saying there had been an earthquake. I started to call up my family, it was quite traumatic.
“They are suffering there. They are still not in their homes. They are out in the open. it is difficult right now.
“They have a tent, food and water, but it is very difficult, especially when it rains. They are living together and sleeping together, so I am worried about disease; we are really worried about it.”
Foreign aid has began pouring in through Kathmandu’s only airport but attempts to reach isolated towns and villages have been hampered by the damage caused to much of Nepal’s infrastructure.
Yesterday (Wednesday) the United Nations Emergency Relief Co-ordinator released $15million through the Central Emergency Response fund to enable humanitarian aid organisations to scale up their operations throughout the affected areas.
In the meantime Mr Maharjan, 52, said his family faced another night at risk from the elements, afraid to return to their homes but with nowhere else to go.
“I think the earthquake has a powerful way of affecting people’s brains. They are scared, they feel threatened.
“When I spoke to my family they could not speak. When Sulochana spoke to her children they said ‘come back, come back to Nepal so we can die together’.
“The airport is still not open. As soon as the airport opens I will go back to Nepal as soon as possible.”
Mr Maharjan and Mrs Aryal are launching an appeal to support victims of the Nepal earthquake.
The restaurant will be holding a charity meal to raise money for the Red Cross and there will also be a collection box for people to leave a donation to the victims in the foyer of the restaurant.
If you would like to make a donation online, Nepalese Community Oxfordshire currently has a Justgiving page at www.justgiving.com/ncouk/